Personal Response on Langston Hughes’s Poems

After reading a list of Langston Hughes’ poems, I found that his poems are genuinely impactful in spreading the impact of social and racial injustice in America, going against African Americans’ beauty and racial stereotypes and taking pride in his skin colour. Although I could not imagine how Hughes and African Americans had to go through, I can relate to Hughes as a person of colour living in a white society. Among his work, one poem that stood out to me is ‘Goodbye Christ.’ I will analyze how ‘Goodbye Christ’ differs from Hughes’ other poems in this response. 

The content in ‘Goodbye Christ’ is exceptionally different from Hughes’s other poems. Hughes usually describes his views and values through a story or a character, for example, ‘Ruby Brown.’ In ‘Ruby Brown,’ he talks about the injustice and racial problem through the pretty ruby brown girl in her town of not choosing to be either a maid or a prostitute due to her skin colour. “What can a coloured girl do On the money from a white woman’s kitchen? And ain’t there any joy in this town?” On the other hand, in ‘Goodbye Christ,’ he directly states his political standpoint and religion. “Make way for a new guy with no religion at all – A real guy named Marx Communist Lenin Peasant Stalin Worker Me – I said, ME!” From this line, Huges states that he is an atheist and even compares himself with different people like Stalin and Karl Marx; we can know his political standpoint- a communist. 

Other poems he wrote generally express the hope and optimism of the writer. For example, ‘I, Too, Sing America.’, “Tomorrow, I’ll be at the table when company comes.” When readers read “Tomorrow,” they can comprehend that he does not mean tomorrow, but sometimes in the future. This represents that Hughes hopes he will sit at the same table as white people one day. It symbolizes Hughes’s optimism and means that he believes African Americans will finally be seen as the white man’s equal one day. While in ‘Goodbye Christ,’ we can detect that Hughes is no longer carrying optimism; instead, it shows his bitterness and tiredness towards the injustice in the world. “Go ahead on now, you’re getting in the way of things. Lord.” This line illustrates that Hughes himself thinks the lord has no use in this world and has given up on him and the world. From this, we can catch a glimpse of the anger and disappointment of Hughes on the injustice in the world. Therefore, the tone in ‘Goodbye Christ’ is approvingly different from his other poems that usually carry a positive and optimistic side. At the same time, in ‘Goodbye Christ,’ he only shows his resentment and anger. 

To conclude everything discussed above, ‘Goodbye Christ’ has a more significant impact on me than his other work because of the frustration and anger emotions that he displays in the poem, and it lets readers have a glimpse of his personal viewpoint. Besides that, I have enjoyed reading Hughes’ poems because it has given me a greater awareness of racial injustice and the importance of being proud of your skin colour. 

Langston Hughes PR

Langston Hughes’s collection of poems are very powerful and moving poems that combat and go against the racial stereotypes Hughes battled in his time. He consistently has a sense of African American pride in his poems, where he celebrates black culture, triumphs and history. In doing this he pushes his fellow African Americans to be honoured of their race and culture. Hughes also speaks about the dreams and aspirations that African Americans should have and for them to not be discouraged by the racial stereotypes set upon them, rather disprove and overcome them. In most of his poems it is the themes that he uses that really allow him to do this.

The themes that Hughes uses vary throughout this poem, but I found the most important ones were black pride, racial discrimination and injustice, cultural history and the dreams of African Americans. The reason these themes are so moving for the most part, was because there was a stigma surrounding those topics, especially for black-white conversation, this was unheard of. The stereotype for African Americans of this time was that they only knew the emotion of happiness because if they were to complain to white people it would make them seem ungrateful and upset the white people, which could lead to a bad consequence. For Hughes to speak about these stigmatized things was very courageous, and the content of the poems elaborated on these themes in very moving ways because he would use the poems to share the universal struggle of black people during this time.

Hughes’s poems successfully give the reader a sense of responsibility to try and make a change against racial injustice and discrimination. By using the stigmatized themes, it makes the poems seem more powerful because it was not common for African Americans to see someone take a lead like this and basically make a stand without the use of violence which gives a powerful message. To conclude Langston Hughes’s poems helped to begin to break the stigmatism around the universal struggles of African Americans and pave a path for other youth to start and make a change to a more inclusive future.

Reflection on the Poetry of Langston Hughes

Langston Hughes, born at the turn of the 20th century, was an extremely influential poet and social activist for the duration of his career. Through his various works, he made an incredible effort to bring awareness to, and fight back against, the discrimination faced by African Americans (as well as other unfortunate citizens looked down upon by contemporary American society). These themes are the most easily noticeable recurrence throughout his various poems, but the ideas and styles they present are absolutely worth deeper examination.

Hughes’ poetry is extremely varied all across the board. Despite the similar themes and subject matter, of the ones I’ve read, no two poems sound exactly the same. They might have a different tone, or a different rhythm, or sometimes no rhythm at all. Surprisingly, although I personally prefer some of these styles over others, Hughes managed to write all of them with a considerable amount of talent, and no lack of emotional weight. Above all else, each of these poems is intended to speak to people, but in different ways. Some are intended for those at the top of the American social hierarchy, to make them understand the plight faced by all the people below them. Others are intended directly for those on the bottom, less intended to create sympathy than to inspire.

Something I personally found interesting (and appreciate) about these poems is that, regardless of how somber the tone may be, it’s rare that they lose their optimism completely. Life is Fine, which shows it’s narrator on the verge of suicide, implies that he found reason to keep living, ending with the phrase, “Life is fine!” For another example, Let America Be America Again goes into great detail explaining the wrongs committed throughout America’s history, simply stating that the reality of the nation doesn’t live up to it’s promise. However, it ends with the hopeful declaration that fulfilling that promise still isn’t out of reach.

In the end, I really appreciate the worldview and ideas Langston Hughes’ poetry presents, as well as the styles used to express those ideas. Any reader can tell that there’s a lot of emotion and talent behind these words, and considering the subject matter and time in which they were written, that means a huge amount.

Selected Poems by Langston Hughes

After reading the Selected Poems by Langston Hughes, the author made me look at how he is teaching about the racial segregation of black people that was happening in his time in America by raising his voice through poetry. It is important to know historical background as their meanings are specific and it has identification with history and the struggle of discrimination in those days. His poems are free verse that uses an informal speech that Langston Hughes combined, the language of jazz and the language that black people used at that time to clearly convey a message that evokes a feeling. He creates the feeling of empathy by using certain words that describe things that everyone has had like a mother, difficult times, a dream, the excitement of been a child in a candy store, etc. He also uses the word “I” and gives a different meaning to oneself like Whitman. Langston Hughes uses the word “I” to refer to the whole black community including himself.

I identified three main points that Langston Hughes uses, dreams, hope, and being fed up, not only to make clearer their suffering, but also to tell us about freedom. First, with dreams, dreams that are difficult to fulfill because of racism been an obstacle and dreams been deferred. He communicates the stereotypes of black people from the side of white people and compares it with how the life of black people really was, the injustice and their life being hard because they can’t get what they want, making them forget their dreams. Second, hope, giving positive messages to unite black people and to appreciate black people. Telling them that their dreams can come true, they need to stay together, hold on as there is always something good and it can be possible despite the suffering. However, as the poems explain their suffering, dreams and give people hope, there is a point where Langston Hughes shows his feeling of being fed up. Not only communicating to stay together, but also to speak up and end the suffering because what was happening was wrong. He shows how people were tired, sad and hopeless. To stop letting white people to oppress them and to really show what was happening. The three main points shows that the suffering passes through generations and he makes clear the word “freedom”. When he refers to the word freedom, he is not referring only to give freedom to black people but also, he expresses that freedom is for everybody, expanding to more societies and how it is what it will save us all.

PR: Langston Hughes Selected Poetry

After reading the selected poetry of Langston Hughes throughout the past month, I have gained new knowledge and insight to topics I was already familiar with, but not that knowledgeable about. I learned not only about the common topics throughout Hughes poetry (mainly inequality, racism and hardship) but also about how the form and structure of poetry can change how the poem feels to the reader.

In poems like I, Too and Negro the idea of inequality due to racism is very prevalent. Hughes’ invokes strong feelings and thoughts among the reader through his use of careful wording that gets a powerful message across. An example of this in Negro is,

I’ve been a victim:
The Belgians cut off my hands in the Congo. They lynch me still in Mississippi.

The sensitive and uncomfortable topics Hughes raises creates emotion in the reader. Ideas of being a victim to cut off hands and lynching are very unpleasant and help get Hughes’ message across.

In poems like Let America Be America Again, Hughes not only talks about the injustice of racism, but also about inequality of all races, classes and anyone who has or does experience discrimination. He mentions the hardships of slaves, indigenous peoples and the poor lower class. As this poem shows, Hughes wrote for everyone  being discriminated against and all types of injustice.

One of the last big things I learned through Hughes’ poetry is how the form and organization of a poem can change how it effects the reader. Namely, in the poem Harlem Sweeties, Hughes uses a trimeter which gives the poem a more lighthearted and upbeat feeling to the poem. If not for this, the poem may actually come across as creepy instead of light, sweet and happy. Because the poem is describing how Hughes’ feels about some women, if it was a tetrameter, for example, it would make the poem more serious. This would cause lines like,

Brown sugar lassie,

Caramel treat,

Honey-gold baby

Sweet enough to eat.

Would just sound creepy.

By reading poetry from Langston Hughes, I have learned a bit about all of the techniques he uses in his poetry and a lot about what culture in America was like  in Hughes’ time. I enjoyed reading Hughes’ poetry because of his thought and attention to detail in his poetry. It is clear that his message is sincere and not about the fame or money, and that makes the poetry a lot more remarkable and thoughtful. Most of his poetry has a lot of meaning in it and can be difficult to fully understand, but nevertheless his poetry is memorable and meaningful.

Personal Response to Langston Hughes

Throughout this unit, reading the selected poems written by Langston Hughes, I have grown to enjoy reading poetry and searching for patterns and messages embedded within the poems. Hughes takes a topic and writes it in a way that creates a deeper effect and meaning in the message he is trying to convey. Using metaphors, rhymes, and different poetic structures he accentuates the meaning of his poems clearly. 

Hughes raises awareness on many issues regarding racism, oppression and the everyday struggles that African American people have to endure. I was aware of the inequalities and oppression of African American people but Hughes’ poems opened up a whole new understanding for me. Through the perspectives of African American people themselves, the poems show emotion and sometimes even pain. It depicts images of unfairness and lack of respect towards African American people. The effect of this pain and image of inequality causes me to feel for them and it also broadens my knowledge and understanding of the topic Hughes is writing about. For example in The Negro Mother, Hughes describes a mother talking about her own personal experiences being a slave. When the mother says “I am the one labored as a slave, Beaten and mistreated for the work that I gave– children sold away from me, husband sold, too.” I felt sadness and sorrow towards her and couldn’t imagine going through what had happened to her. I also was not aware of how much slaves had to go through and survive, it was heartbreaking to read and even more heartbreaking to imagine a mother opening up and talking about it.

I enjoyed the rhyme schemes Hughes included in some of his poems. The effect of the rhymes was that it was so smooth and satisfying to read. The rhymes created momentum in the poetry and reading it was enjoyable. Another thing I particularly liked while reading the selected poems was that there was a distinguishable optimistic or pessimistic ending. I personally liked the ones with the optimistic endings and thought it was more eye opening when the ending left you open minded. For example an optimistic ending would be like from the poem Montage of a Dream Deferred, “I’d like to take up Bach. Montage of a dream deferred. Buddy, have you heard?” It showed a hopeful and positive ending which leads me to imagine a happy ending. 

 

PR to Langston Hughes

The poetry of Langston Hughes has lots of meaning and makes me feel empathy. Starting with meaning, I found that his poetry had a great impact on enlightening me about racism and inequality. For example in, The Negro mother, He tells the tragic story of a black mother. The poem gave me an account of how black people were treated and showed how horrible it was. On line 7 of The Negro Mother, there is one sentance which really showed me what people did to african american people. “I am the child they stole from the sand.” This put the imagery of an innocent child being taken away from their familly and then being forced to work as a slave. This is just one example of how his poems enlightened me about what African American people went through.

Langston Hughes also creates lots of empathy in his poems which helps to show you how it was for African American people. I found this especially in “Ruby Brown,” which is about an African American girl who is treated very unfairly. She is underpaid, a prostitute, no one talks to her. The whole poem just makes me feel for her and how unfair she is treated. 

 

Langstons Poetry is very smart in my opinion. He is someone who wanted to tell a message about how African American people are treated unfairly and show the horror of what they go through. In order to effectively send his message out to the world to inspire people to change, he did so in the form of poetry. Poetry in my opinion is quite fun to read and still able to capture the emotion of the message. By writing his message through poetry he was able to enlighten many including me about the challenges African American people faced.

Langston Hughes has very meaningful poems which have shown me how it was for African American people and how they faced racism. The poems sound nice to read but still have deep meaning. The amount I have learned about racism while enjoying the poems themself, makes me adore Langston Hughes’ work.

 

Langston Hughes’ Poetry Reflection

After finishing the selected Langston Hughes’s poems in our class my perspective of the Harlem Renaissance has broadened greatly. The Harlem Renaissance is a topic that I knew about from previous schooling, however, my knowledge of it was relatively shallow. I know of many arts produced at that time but none have helped me understand it as much as Hughes’s poetry. Hughes wrote poetry about the real world in each of the poems even if it was disguised as a hypothetical situation. His poetry was written to everyone with poems like The Negro Speaks of Rivers, and Negro written to the African American population. Poems like Memo to Non-White Peoples, and Deferred written to the privileged White population. And, poems like Let America be America Again,  and Life is Fine to everyone in between.

Furthermore, to understand many of Hughes’s poems you need a lot of background information. So, when reading the poems I would often have to research many concepts in the poem. This only further broadened my knowledge about the era, and helped me understand some of the other arts I knew from the time a lot better. With his long timeline of writing poems we also get to see how the ideas of the Harlem Renaissance changed over time.

Similarly, we can see Hughes’s ideas changing as he broadened the topics he would write about in his later years. His early poems being specifically about the African American population’s problems, while his later poems included more minorities and under privileged populations. We also see the influence of other writers build on him. The most significant influence being Walt Whitman. We see Whitman’s influence in poems like Harlem [1] where his tone is matched to what would be expected from Whitman. In his later poems such as Goodbye Christ, or Paper for English B where he writes from his perspective which he never used to.

The poems we read even helped me understand some modern media better. For example, from reading the poems I can understand more modern music made by artists such as the Wutang Clang, N.W.A, or 2pac better. These artist’s music is similar to many of Hughes’s poems because even though the message is not always clear in the different mediums they both relate to problems in the world. These different artists all have something in common in their art, which is the message they intend to deliver. However, before reading the poems off Hughes I did not always understand that. In short the poems of Hughes have not only helped my understand what things were like back in his days, but also to understand more modern media, as some people may have viewed the work of Hughes to be ahead of his time. This concept of timelessness in Hughes’s poems is what makes his poems still a topic of discussion in the modern era. His poems inspire people of all colours every day and will continue to do so long into the future.

Langston Hughes Personal Response

Langston Hughes’ poems are surely diverse in many ways. His works do not focus only on the big picture of black’s people hardship of life, but other topics such as the uniqueness of black culture, the figure of the mother and the commonality of life struggles that everyone experiences. These topics are most prevalent in poems like The Negro-Mother, Harlem-Sweeties, Deferred. First, The Negro-Mother, while the title suggests the hardship that the typical black mother has to endure, this can be applied in a more universal sense of figure of “the mother”. For example, “I am the woman who worked in the field…I am the one who labored as slave…I couldn’t read then. I couldn’t write” While mothers these days do not have to work in the field or suffer from racism or discirmination, it still goes quite far to say that being a parent figure is hard. As a mother, it is part of their responsibility to take care of children, work to take care of them, teaching them the important lessons in life, etc. It is never an easy job, which is why it can be so relatable to any mother in this world. “But I had to keep on till my work was done:” This is another emphasis on the heavy responsibility that every mother has to carry because no mother would want to abandon their children, so they always must keep going. Next is Harlem Sweeties. For instance, “Caramel treat, Honey-gold baby Sweet enough to eat.” In this line, the black women are being compared as food, sweet and delicious, which has a seductive notion to them. “Rich cream-colored to plum tinted black, Feminine sweetness in Harlem’s no lack” Hughes seems to be honoring the color of black women, that they are beautiful and unique, which goes back to showing how different women’s beauty is seen in the black community. Last but not least, Deferred voices the very humane desire of black individuals that are not so different from others. For example, “Maybe now I can have that white enamel stove I dreamed about when we first fell in love eighteen years ago.” This is the desire of a black married woman who wants a better stove in her house because back then, having to cook on a wood stove was very hard. This can be applied to anyone since maybe once in a lifetime, we all have wished for something better not because we don’t appreciate what we already have, but because we believe that new experiences can enrich ourselves. Also, “All I want is one more bottle of gin.” Once more, alcoholism is not rare anymore in any culture, as humans, we all want to escape the suffering of life through an escape and alcohol is one of them. “All I want is a wife who will work with me and not against me.” Love can be hard for everyone: finding a partner that shares the same core value as us is hard but to trust them and find the one who will stick with us until the end is probably even harder, which again, is not uncommon in any culture. All in all, Hughes’ work is excellent in its own right with many subjects worth thinking and questioning, as well as accurately reflecting black people’s life back then. 

Review on collection of Langston Hughes poems

In my opinion, Langston Hughes’s collection of poems is very inspiring and creatively showcases the life of people of colour and what they went through. Hughes emphasizes the struggles coloured people went through and the work they had to do to survive as coloured people. For example, in his poem “Ruby Brown”, he shows the miserable life of a beautiful young woman who’s dreams and goals were crushed and taken because she was coloured. As a coloured person with limited work opportunity, she had to make a living through a job that was frowned upon, causing her to throw away her self respect. Through this poem and many more in his collection, Hughes  shows how coloured people were downgraded because of the colour of their skin, how they  lived their lives with no freedom or justice, giving away their self-worth to earn a living. He emphasized the lives of women, mothers, children, and men who worked so hard for their generations to come. Hughes writes his poetry from different perspectives and this helped me as a reader understand the situation people of colour faced and the struggles they encountered. The imagery and descriptions used also had a tremendous effect on the poems and made them unique and very expressive. The different perspectives he used helped me as a reader understand the situation being described.

Reading Hughes’ collection really opened my eyes to the deeper struggles black people faced living in a world that excluded them from society, a world that treated them as if they were not human. I realized that these people felt like their lives were based on simple dreams that were unreal. The poem “Montage of a Dream Deferred” really opened up my eyes to the different dreams, goals, and wants that all these different black Americans desire. The fact that people assumed that they only wanted money and didn’t have dreams just showed how people judged and looked down upon black people. 

Not only did Hughes emphasize this, but he also had a very strong sense of racial pride which is demonstrated in his poems. Racial pride in Hughes’s poetry and jazz music are inextricably linked. In fact, he invented the phrase “jazz poetry” to describe a type of poetry in which the poem’s rhythm mimics the sounds of jazz music when spoken aloud. Racial pride was shown through being hopeful and expressing the black American culture. 

Overall his poems appealed to me because they supported equality, opposed racism and injustice, and celebrated African American culture, comedy, and spirituality, among many other aspects. He also talks about experiences being black and living in America, as well as universal themes of identity and belonging in the modern world. I think that all of his poems can appeal to anyone of any race, showing that no matter what, whether you are black, purple, or yellow, it should not impact how you live your life because, in the end, we are all humans. 

 

Langston Hughes personal response

Langston Hughes was a star poet as well as an activist during the 19th century. His poems were inspired by Walt Whitman and were free verse which was unusual for the times. Langston Hughes was also known as being inspired by the blues and wrote on behalf of the African American community in the USA. His writing took on a more ecologically valid point of view later on as he started vouching for all repressed people.

Harlem Sweeties is an example of Hughes’s writing, which comes to life and moves people to think a certain way. The poem Harlem Sweeties caused people around the world but mainly in America to adapt their beauty standard and instead find beauty in women of color as well as in white women during the mid-19th century. “Pale, almost translucent skin, rosy cheeks, crimson lips, white teeth, and sparkling eyes.” As said by Jessica Cale when describing the beauty standard of the 19th century. Harlem Sweeties triggers people’s beauty standards to change and accept a broader beauty. Harlem Sweeties makes use of imagery in the sense that it describes people as candy and dessert, “Brown sugar lassie, Caramel treat, Honey-gold baby”. (Line 5-7). The sweetness of these types of foods figures as the beauty of the woman that Hughes sees in Harlem.

Goodbye Christ is one of Hughes’s more popular poems which brings out his personal opinions never seen. The mood of Goodbye Christ is angry and sad, it is like he is losing hope in the future of the world and becoming depressed. “Marx Communist Lenin Peasant Stalin Worker ME–”. (Line 24). His view in politics is announced. During this time many intellectuals saw hope in Communism and the public did not know of the many millions that had died at Stalin’s hands. To them, Communism was an ideal society in which property is publicly owned and everyone works and is paid due to their ability and needs. Today we see that the ideal world of Communism is nearly impossible, and that is why people no longer strive for it in the United States of America.

I enjoyed reading Langston Hughes’s poems because of his use of imagery and the lack of structure. The lack of structure made the poems more entertaining to read and kept me interested. Langston Hughes wrote in order to promote equality and fight against repression. This made me more interested in his writing, and is another reason why these poems became so famous.

 

 

 

 

Works cited

Drop dead gorgeous: 19th century beauty tips for the aspiring consumptive. Dirty, Sexy History. (2018, December 5). Retrieved January 31, 2022, from https://dirtysexyhistory.com/2018/05/16/drop-dead-gorgeous-19th-century-beauty-tips-for-the-aspiring-consumptive/

Selected Poems by Langston Hughes:IB English A Literature Mr. Macknight.

Langston Hughes Poems Personal Response

This collection of Langston Hughes poems, although I cannot empathize with the people being described, still convey a whole world of meaning. From metaphors to comparisons, the poems are meaningful to me.

Langston Hughes writes about oppression and racism against African American people in the twentieth century. Even though I cannot empathize with these people I still know how horrible racism is and feel terrible for them. One poem in particular “ruby brown” has a heartbreaking metaphor which explains how the character in the poem “Ruby Brown” has no fuel to power the flame of joy in her heart. Literary devices like these are what help made Langston Hughes’ poems so powerful to me when I read them.

Langston Hughes is passionate about what he writes about. His poems are always about the dreams, racial injustice, and most importantly black pride. Many, if not all, African American people have dreams, and social injustice is not letting them achieve these dreams. One of the poems is even an excerpt from a book of poems called “montage of a dream deferred”. This means a dream which is being/has been postponed. When reading the poems I noticed these factors and I felt terrible for these people. They helped me really realize how horrible racism was. I had never really had it described in this way before.

One thing that I do not like about this collection of poetry, or Langston Hughes’ poetry in general is that it is written in free verse. There is no specific rhyme scheme so the poems just sound like him talking and describing things. I wish he would have written with a few more rhymes to make the poem have more of a melody. This would have given me more enjoyment when reading more of the poems.

One more thing that I like about this group of poems is that it is written from different perspectives. I did not know some of the situations that black Americans have been in and these poems helped paint the pictures in my head. Some are written from the perspective and lives of mothers and women. Some are written from the perspective of a man. These poems helped me understand both points of view.

Langston Hughes’ poems, which are are mostly about discrimination, are intertwined with optimism which shows that these people do indeed have dreams to chase and things they enjoy. This gives the poems a happier feel so I was in a better mood while reading them. At the end of one poem in particular, “deferred” from “Montage of a Dream Deferred”, the stanzas become one line each and each stanza is a sentence saying what someone wants. This is a smart addition to the poem as it shows the diversity of of African American people. They all have different wants and needs. One of them even says “I’d like to take up Bach” which was not exactly the norm for African Americans at the time. I knew that African Americans during slave times had these wants and dreams but I had never really thought hard about how they were being deferred until I read this poem, and other poems in the collection.

I usually do not like reading poetry but Langston Hughes shows a lot of passion in his writing, and included details that make the poems more worthwhile and interesting to me.